When it comes to Japanese art, ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) are arguably the best representation. Often produced as woodblock prints, ukiyo-e have captured the imagination of people all over the world, providing a romanticised version of Japan that’s connected to ‘The Floating World’ of pleasure palaces, geisha, samurai and kabuki actors during the Edo period.
Frederick Harris’ Ukiyo-E: The Art Of The Japanese Print may well be the definitive version of Japanese woodblock prints. Filled with beautiful artwork and commentary on the greatest Japanese artists of all time, the book is a must-read for anyone who’s interested in art history and Japanese culture.
In Japan, there are many remote places worlds away from the bustling megacities of Tokyo and Kyoto. The town of Yamanaka in Ishikawa Prefecture is one such place and writer Hannah Kirshner reveals the intimate details of this mountainous town in Water, Wood & Wild Things: Learning Craft And Cultivation In A Japanese Mountain Town.
Lyrical, vivid and beautiful, Kirshner’s book is a window into a part of Japan that few have explored in literature and from the very first page, you’ll be transported to Yamanaka and feel right at home.
What do we mean by acceptance? Is it the avoidance of conflict? The understanding that some events are simply beyond our control? Is it the resignation that certain things won’t change? These kinds of questions are asked everyday all over the world and every culture has their own take on what acceptance means.
In Japan, ukeireru is a type of acceptance that the Japanese embrace and Scott Haas is interested in peering behind the curtain to see what exactly it means. In Why Be Happy?: The Japanese Way of Acceptance, Haas explores the concept of ukeireru, what it truly means to accept something and how the power of acceptance can help to build a happier and healthier life.
Sake is the heart of Japan. It’s magical, mystical and historically rich. It tells of stories that are thousands of years old and the tireless efforts of master craftsmen brewing fantastic booze. It’s a bridge between worlds, connecting western drinkers with a beverage that opens up a whole new world of drinking opportunities. It’s transformative, always changing, altering perceptions wherever it’s experienced.
Sake is all of these things and more. Brian Ashcraft’s The Japanese Sake Bible does an exceptional job of capturing all the qualities that make nihonshu one of the most diverse and exciting drinks in the world. Chock full of detail from leading sake brewers and poetic tasting notes, The Japanese Sake Bible is perfect for anyone who wants to worship at the altar of nihonshu.
Having a connection to nature is a feeling that’s as old as the human race. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived in harmony with the land and relied on it for food, shelter and warmth. But as we’ve built more cities and created new technology, our connection to nature is no longer what it used to be.
Rediscovering that bond is a therapeutic practice, as presented in Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles’ Forest Bathing: The Rejuvenating Practice of Shinrin Yoku. This book delves into the Japanese concept of forest bathing, providing helpful tips on how to embrace the natural world and building it into a positive mental health routine.
Haruki Murakami is arguably the most well-known Japanese author for western audiences. With a writing career that spans over forty years, Murakami has been delighting readers for decades with his signature surrealist humour and bittersweet reflection on the transience of life.
While Murakami has written some wonderful novels, I’ve found myself gravitating towards his short stories lately. One of his most memorable collections is Men Without Women, a poignant series of short stories that delves into the concept of loneliness and what it means for different people.
In the absence of female company, all of the men in this collection have lost something. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s obvious. The reader feels it in every word and that is Murakami’s talent on full display.
It’s no secret that Japanese whisky has taken the world by storm, regularly fetching high prices at auctions and earning award after award, captivating the hearts and bank accounts of whisky lovers from all walks of life. But this wasn’t always the case.
There was a time not so long ago when Japanese whisky was looked down on as inferior to other whisky varieties like scotch and bourbon. So, what changed? The answers can be found in Brian Ashcraft’s brilliant Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide To The World’s Most Desirable Spirit.
Packed full of insight and history, this is a must-read book for anyone with even a passing interest in whisky and Japanese culture.
Food and drink have the power to be transformative, whether it’s through unearthing a new culture, or the simple joy of spending time with friends and family. That sense of magic can be felt in certain ingredients and transform how we look at categories such as mould. Koji is exactly the kind of magical substance that will change your perception of how a mould is used in food and drink.
Koji Alchemy, written by Rich Shih and Jeremy Umansky, is a comprehensive guide on understanding what makes koji so versatile. From delving into the history of different strains, to offering one-of-a-kind recipes, Koji Alchemy is a must-read book for chefs, fermentation enthusiasts and anyone who’d like to expand their knowledge on an ingredient that’s ushering in a new wave of innovation.
From writers to artists, Japan has a history of inspiring creatives to bring a new dimension to their work. When Spanish artist Amaia Arrazola took up an art residency in Tokyo, she was inspired to create an entire art portfolio after spending a month in Japan’s capital. The Tokyo Travel Sketchbook: Kawaii Culture, Wabi Sabi Design, Female Samurais and Other Obsessions is the fruit of Arrazola’s labour. Continue reading “The Tokyo Travel Sketchbook Review: Capturing The Contradictory Nature Of Japan”→
In recent years, Japanese philosophy has had a profound effect on the West. Practices such as ikigai and yugen have become popular for developing a positive mental health routine. Yet one of the earliest Japanese practices to take off in the West happened to be an amalgamation of both cultures called kaizen.